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Business Analyst’s Guide to Smart Resource Management

Filed under Business

It’s always a good sign when projects pour in. It means your enterprise has marked out its expertise and that your clientele is counting on you to deliver. But what happens when the right staffs are suddenly nowhere to be found? At the worst possible time, you discover there’s a skills gap and experiential insufficiency. After all, you can’t just hand over your latest project to whoever happens to be passing by. Neither can you afford to do everything yourself or overburden the same set of people time and again.

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Enter smart resource management. Besides helping you delegate task swiftly and with higher precision than before, it’s here to permanently resolve the pain points associated with making every second on the project clock count.

Let’s take a closer look at the resource pool, this time with tips to keep your people driven, engaged and most importantly – productive!

The Triggers Behind Workforce Planning

The plain truth is, every invention is the result of an idea behind it. And ideas come from a person or group of people trying to change the world. Be it an actual product/service or a new strategy to support your business objectives, tapping into potential lies at the heart of fully exploiting your profitability quotient.

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If your future plans include venturing into a new market or expanding your business globally, you need the right people to drive your new objectives forward. When successfully mobilized, your resources are poised to take control and relocate to places where their skills will help your enterprise prosper.

If any of the following situations have risen within the firm, then it’s time to acknowledge the real problem still spans the length and breadth of your enterprise:

  • High cost-to-hire: This happens when you frequently hire expensive recruits to execute work without checking if available staffs exist internally.
  • Lack of productivity in time: your existing staff are overworked to the point of exhaustion, which brings down employee morale and further lowers productivity.
  • Slow reaction to new opportunities: you’re unable to respond in time to changing market trends due to a volatile workforce.
  • Shortage in the talent pipeline: you have lots of projects but too few hands to commit to it.
  • Forced reshaping fluctuations: your firm’s employee record isn’t regularly checked for relevant experience, resulting in different resourcing types being prematurely fired.

Smaller firms tend to operate on a flat hierarchy where staff’s duties aren’t restricted by role. If you’re a business analyst at such a firm, chances are you’re also doubling up as a project manager. Naturally, the responsibility would fall on you to resolve inter-project team conflicts. Now that you’ve been exposed to some of the triggers, you’re probably reconsidering your resourcing strategy this very moment. Let’s head over to the pain points and explore the features unique to smart resource management proven to help you avoid them!

Optimal Strategic Allocation

strategic-allocation

No cries of joy will follow the announcement of more, or dull work. No matter how skilled, relevant and competent your resource pool is, it’s highly impractical to expect them to know every project requirement and have sufficient time for them all. Strategically allocating workloads keeps everyone optimistic and optimized!

While spreadsheets are easy to create, it is at best a temporary solution to hold your resource information. As your enterprise’s reach expands, it is a cumbersome process to track new entrants and match their availability to your demand. If a set of staff leave mid project or are allocated on other activities, you’d spend countless hours adding this information or amending existing allocations. When each department customizes their own spreadsheets, chances are these changes wouldn’t reflect uniformly and correctly across the enterprise.

The likelihood of miscommunication increases with a limited field of vision. You’ll have no way of knowing if the resources found are the right choice, until it’s too late. With a dedicated resource management solution, however, you can get hold of qualified staff in time. Also, your resources can be notified of their project slots in real-time. Which means that they have time to adapt and retrain even if they’re shifted to other activities. This way, they can still remain productive while awaiting further instructions.

When your staffs log their timesheets, you’d be notified of upcoming leave applications and can approve or reject them based on the rigors of work. Accordingly, schedules can be drawn up with after pinning your resource allocations with greater accuracy.

Healthy Utilization Rates

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The term “utilization” makes everyone picture a humongous pile of work awaiting them at their desk. But, what it simply refers to here is a map of all the hours worked.

Under utilizing your staff results in increased bench-time. This isn’t ideal for the reason that payroll costs peak despite the fact that skills, knowledge and experience are waiting indefinitely to be deployed. On the other hand over-utilizing your existing workforce doesn’t let you leverage potential. The lack of sufficient hands overworks your staff to the point where product quality is compromised. Worse, your clients have to be informed of the possibility of extending project delivery in order to complete it as originally intended. The fewer hands you have end up putting in longer hours to compensate for the talent deficit.

But with optimal utilization rates, you can quantify contributions across departments. What’s more, even with your staff away on leave or training, you’ll be left with the proportion of time for which they’re available. This can prevent overbookings on multiple projects running at the same time.

The Full-Time-Equivalent (FTE) is the easily the most accurate metric to uniformly map different resourcing contracts. This way, you can ensure your regular staff, part-timers and freelancers contracted for a temporary period can spread work evenly amongst themselves. You have the additional options of hourly and percentage measurements which, when compared annually allow you to rectify imbalances between actual and projected clocked efforts. It even allows you to tally all billable hours and match them to the efforts worked on project-centric activities.

For example, if a particular resource was allotted 4 projects for a single day, each requiring 8 hours of effort this translates to a working day of 32 hours which is impossible. You could then adjust the hours on the timescale, allowing the concerned staff member to do full justice to separate projects.

Establishing Resource Capacity Versus Demand

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Now that you know the advantages of retaining a contingent resource pool, the next step is to learn where and how they’re deployed for projects in the pipeline. To do so, you need to take note of projects that failed in the past and explore the reasons behind their failure. You can then choose to resolve the pain points with newly brainstormed strategies or completely rule them out.

For those projects that have succeeded, the people and the strategies they devised must be thoroughly documented to understand what would and wouldn’t work.

By building strong business relationships with temporary resources you’ve worked with in the past, you can consider re-hiring them in future based on their asking fee, availability and nature of upcoming demand.

A useful report to pull up while evaluating your future demand is the booked versus actual. The booked hours refer to your estimated project time while actuals draw data from timesheets logged by your staff. You’ll then be able to align the required staff to organizational goals. What’s more, if the project demands special knowledge or varied skills, the extra support and training can be attained in advance to help your staff prepare accordingly.

Imagine you need a resource to work on a project due to commence in 2 months’ time. If there is no recorded information telling you about the future supply of these resources and work demand, you’re forced to take a reactive rather than proactive approach to match your resource supply to demand. You end up either outsourcing your project or overspending on resources, besides wasting precious time.

Once you delve into project history and oversee strategic allocations against healthy utilization rates, you’d be able to reshape your hiring and firing policy scientifically. You can then update your skills inventory with skills that benefited from the most recent training and certifications.

When every employee is kept in the loop with regard to their work distribution, they’re informed of what’s expected of them and will receive clarity on their roles. This helps them maintain a supportive environment to collaborate on future endeavors. If you wish to reap more efficiency in less time, then it’s time you regarded your resource pool as an organizational asset rather an enterprise fixture!

Did this post introduce a new dimension? Let us know how you’ve been faring in tying your people and projects together!

Guest Author: Aakash Gupta
Aakash Gupta is the expert authority in the smart workforce planning and resource management domain. With over 5 years’ of experience at Saviom Software to back this up, he has helped several multinational businesses around the globe diversify their project portfolio.

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